Adventures in Bureaucracy
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Halfway through the first debate. President Bush seems defensive and peevish, and Senator Kerry has mentioned Vietnam at least three times.

Not that the debates make any difference to me. My mind was made up weeks ago.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Volcanic activity in the Pacific Northwest. Earthquakes in central California. It's like the first half hour of one of the crappiest miniseries I ever watched.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
If this is true, Abner Doubleday was one sick bastard.
Words fail me. (via Galley Slaves)
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
It's getting so you can't even turn on the radio any more. Driving home today I heard a commercial for Dr. Phil's special on parenting, featuring special celebrity guest stars. Ugh. As if Dr. Phil weren't bad enough on his own.

But the idea of celebrities giving parenting advice is intriguing, and could make for an interesting show. I can see it now...

Michael Jackson and Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin discuss the importance of bonding with your child.
"My advice to parents? Crikey! Show an interest in 'em, take 'em to work with you. That let's 'em get to know you as a person as well as a parent."
"I know that people say you've got to let go sometime, Dr. Phil, but I feel I've got to hold my children as close as I can while they're still young."

Courtney Love on quality time: "Yeah, I believe in making time for my daughter, and if I have to blow off some stupid court date or something to do it, well, that's what I'll do. I'm a f---ing GREAT mother. Look at my daughter. She's caring and helps others and knows what to do when someone OD's on oxycontin. I tell you, just ONE overdose and suddenly everyone's judging you. Hey, what the f--- are you looking at, baldy? I'll kick your @ss."

Joan Crawford on responsibility: "As a parent, you have to train your children to take care of their things. Sure, it's tough at the time, but they'll thank you for it when they get older."

Cybill Shepherd on letting your child develop: "You've got to give them space to grow and form their own personalities, and that's especially hard for children of celebrities like myself. Hey, have I mentioned that I had sex with Elvis?"

Woody Allen: "You know what I find most rewarding about being a parent? That bond just grows stronger and stronger when the kids grow up. That's how you know you did it right."
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Ah, this one took me back to the days when "Saturday Night Live" was new, and it was a big deal when I could stay up late to watch it. Usually I only saw it when my parents' friends came over and they got to drinking in the kitchen while the kids could do anything else in the rest of the house, as long as it didn't make too much noise.

Going through the comments is an exercise in nostalgia. My all-time favorite SNL moment - the one where Jan Hooks was Bette Davis in a videotaped will talking to her daughter from beyond the grave: "You get... NOTHING! Ha ha ha ha!". But the best part was the "fast forward" where Jan Hooks made the fast-forward noises and messed up by going out of sync. She covered it up with continued maniacal laughter a la Bette Davis. Best sketch ever.

Jan Hooks was probably the most underrated of the cast members, but she could play anything. She and Phil Hartman pulled a lot of the shows along as I remember it.

And "Weekend Update" hasn't been any good since Jane Curtin signed off the air.

Thank God for the DVD player. Will they ever bring out the lost seasons, after the original cast left but before Eddie Murphy came along, when the show got REALLY bad?

More reasons to buy the "Star Wars" trilogy on DVD, even though the fact that I am a sci-fi geek is reason enough. However, that is NOT reason enough to get episodes one, two and three. Sheer inertia will probably bring me to the theater to see the next one, but just the once should do if the last two movies are anything to go by.

And have a look at this. Bea Arthur never looked so good.
Monday, September 20, 2004
I watched the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather tonight, just to see what they would say about the whole issue. No style points for them. I figured it would either open or close the program, but it was put in at the end of the day's headlines.

Two points in the explanation stuck out. First, that CBS News got the memoranda in question from someone best known for a long struggle about medical benefits and a long campaign against President Bush. Second, that CBS News approached him for the documents, not the other way around. Now why might some people think that CBS may have had some sort of agenda?

And what's with all this "We cannot authenticate these documents" stuff? Why not just come right out and say they were fake? It seems fairly obvious to the untrained eye.

This is why I don't watch TV news any more.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Another one for the truth is stranger than fiction files. You'd think any "cross-border language" idealists would go for Esperanto, but that never featured in modern television programming. (via Relapsed Catholic)

I wonder how this happened. If Deutsche Welle is run anything like my department, it probably came from some disgruntled employee they couldn't get rid of, so he was given some make-work task to keep him away from the rest of the staff.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Computers really do make life better in so many ways.
Tell me how this helps your candidate. What's wrong with people today?
When, oh when, will this election be over? Because I'm sick to death of hearing about it. The Commonwealth countries have the right idea: six weeks of campaigning and then it's over. This one seems to have been going on for at least two years.

I was whittling through the tottering pile of periodicals in the corner and found a US News and World Report from January. The cover story was about Howard Dean: "Is He the One?" Apparently not. Yet it seems like every news outlet was touting the guy as the odds-on favorite right up until the time people actually started to vote. So much for Howard Dean. And that was about the time when I started tuning out the news. Well, that doesn't sound quite right. I still pay attention to it, but mostly just the basics. All the screeching by politicos and pundits on either side of the great divide is noise that I've more or less filtered out. And it seems so much of what passes for news these days is people anxiously trying to tell me what to think of any given happening.

Which is why the whole CBS memo thing hasn't really meant much to me. It's sad though. I've always thought of Dan Rather as the best of the three network anchors (Peter Jennings seems too pleased with himself, while Tom Brokaw always reminds me of a drunk at the end of a bar). It's an ugly thing to watch. For some reason, the latest round of defenses got me to thinking about Mr. Craig, my ninth grade geometry teacher. That was one of my favorite classes in all my high school years, as there was just something elegant about the geometric proofs.

So the conclusion here, according to Dan Rather, is that George W. Bush (1) disobeyed orders and (2) received preferential treatment back in the days of Vietnam. The first conclusion can be drawn from the content of the Killian memos, and the second from both the memoranda and the testimony of Ben Barnes. The memoranda are the sole supports for the conclusion.

And if they are in fact false? That changes the proposition. You can't reach the same conclusion by deductive reasoning. Dan Rather's response? "I think the public, even decent people who may be well-disposed toward President Bush, understand that powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they can’t deny the fundamental truth of the story."

I don't think that would have flown as a proof with Mr. Craig.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Oh, jeez, not AGAIN.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
But I'm sure they feel really, really good about themselves.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
I agree completely.
Russia has always been a place apart. Even before turning to Communism the country stood uncomfortably on the line between East and West, and the Revolution made Russia an enemy of the western world. Though an ally in World War II, it wasn't exactly a trusted one, and the Cold War that followed pitted Soviet Russia firmly against the United States. Fifty years of adversarial relations came to an end when the Soviet Union imploded, leaving Russia shorn of its vassals and uncertain of its place in the world. Now nearly fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, is it possible to put aside the legacy of so many years of distrust?

I wonder whether the terrorists in Russia planned to try to split the country away from any possible alliance with the United States and other western countries. The capture of the school in Beslan was absolutely barbaric, and whether or not the reports that several Arabs were among the terrorists, they seem to have been motivated by the same nihilistic ideology. What were they hoping to accomplish? Like the terrorists involved in the capture of the Palace of Culture theatre in Moscow in 2002, the hostage-takers in Beslan look like they planned to die in the act. Strapping on bomb belts and making impossible demands doesn't exactly leave a lot of room for negotiations, and killing large numbers of people on the face of it doesn't look like it will win converts to the cause.

But what do the terrorists gain if it all goes bad? No harm done to their cause if they aren't held responsible for it. This story describes the carnage in terms similar to the hurricane coverage in Florida - a terrible tragedy caused by a force of nature, with nobody apparently responsible for it.

Or it could hinder cooperation in the fight against terrorists by making Russia the bad guy. This piece absolves the terrorists from culpability, since it's Putin's fault for "reckless adventurism" in Chechnya that set the whole thing off. The Russian approach to Chechnya has been heavy-handed to say the least, but it didn't lead to Putin blowing up a school. It seems fairly obvious who to blame for the tragedy in Beslan. So why is the EU asking Russia for explanations?

If sowing discord was one of the goals of the whole thing, it looks like it's working.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
1984 - the best year of our lives? It's hard to argue with facts like these:

20. The Summer Olympics in LA! Not only that, but the Russians (and Ivan Drago) stayed home! Let the Gold Medal Frenzy begin! I think even I won a gold medal that year! I can't stop using exclamation points!

33. Eddie Murphy's last season on "SNL." For my money, the most important "SNL" performer ever -- Eddie saved the show and made the most money afterwards. If you disagree, you're a racist and you hate blacks. End of story.

39. "Somebody's Watching Me" (Rockwell) -- "Inexplicable" isn't a strong enough word here. Seriously, who the hell would stalk Rockwell? How did he get Michael Jackson to sing backup? Why the English accent in the middle? What happened to him after the song? Was he killed in real life by the stalker? Was Rockwell his first name or his last name? I could go on for days.

63. "Romancing The Stone" -- Kathleen Turner was so remarkably hot in this movie, people were high-fiving in the theater. Fifteen years later, she was appearing on "Friends" as Chandler's transexual Dad. I will now rip my earlobes off.

During the Olympics in Athens I remembered the Olympics in Los Angeles and wondered whether twenty years had really passed since then. Well, I'd better log off now - it's time for my Geritol with a prune juice chaser.

(via Damian Penny)
Thursday, September 02, 2004
I haven't been paying much attention to the political conventions, but I wish I'd watched last night. Zell Miller's speech inspired lots of comment, but my favorite comment of all:

"Conviction is a scary thing in the age of irony, eh Mr. Welch?"
Personal comments, opinions and observations from someone stuck inside the Capital Beltway.

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